Increasing demand and limited supply have pushed housing prices way up in Vancouver and Victoria

Good homes available for less than $200,000

Vancouver Island housing price hikes restrained compared to Vancouver and Victoria, Port Alberni cheapest place to buy

You’ve undoubtedly heard all about the voracious housing market in metro Vancouver, about how some homes are quickly selling for $1 million over their asking price.

And you’ve probably heard about how this buying frenzy has leaked into Greater Victoria causing its inventory to dry up and its prices to skyrocket.

But have you heard about what all this rabid house-gobbling has done to the prices in Port Alberni? No?

That’s probably because it has done nothing, zilch, nada.

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate board, the benchmark price for a single-family home on the Pacific side of The Hump in May 2016 remains identical to what it was one year earlier — less than $200,000.

To put it another way, for the price of just one home in Vancouver, you could pick yourself up seven or eight similar homes somewhere near the Alberni canal.

Alberni, followed to a lesser degree by most of its neighbour communities north of the Malahat, has yet to feel the full effect of the recent buying frenzy, meaning some of the most affordable homes in the entire southwest corner of B.C. can be found not far from your front door.

“Well, (Alberni)’s certainly got the cheapest homes,” VIREB president-elect Janice Stromar said. “I actually grew up there and it’s a great place to raise your kids and a great place to retire.”

Although total sales on the Island outside Victoria are climbing at a faster rate — 46 per cent from May 2015 to 2016 — than they have in in either Greater Victoria or Greater Vancouver, that has yet to translate into a corresponding leap in price.

The VIREB, which tracks properties north of Victoria, reports buyers should be able to purchase a typical home for $354,500, a jump of just 9.4 per cent from May of last year. That compares with Greater Vancouver, which reported a benchmark price for detached homes that jumped 37 per cent to a shade over $1.5 million, and Greater Victoria, where the benchmark price for a home in the core region climbed 19 per cent to $706,500.

This comes at a time where Victoria reported a sales increase of 42.4 per cent and Vancouver posted record sales totals for the month of May — 35 per cent higher than its 10-year average.

People talk about Asian and other international buyers pushing the market, but Stromar said that is not necessarily true, at least north of the Malahat. A recently completed 2015 VIREB buyers’ profile showed just two per cent of its buyers came from outside Canada.

Besides, she said, while the market in the big city can influence the local market somewhat, the two do not necessarily directly correspond.

According to Stromar, the bulk of the people sparking the demand from Cowichan north are coming from the usual sources: locals looking for a change and people — largely retirees — migrating to the Island from the Mainland or Alberta.

That said, she has noticed an increase — too small to call a trend — of people escaping the Vancouver market to commute or telecommute from here, as well as a reversal of what had been an outflow of younger workers to Alberta.

In terms of raw numbers, 771 homes changed hands in the VIREB area during the month of May, while 1,289 were sold in the Greater Victoria area.

But the number of available homes remains low throughout the Island. And the laws of supply and demand dictate houses will not remain relatively cheap as long as that situation persists and individual houses continue to get multiple offers.

“The inventory has not been able to keep up with the demand,” she said. “ The demand does not seem to be lessening. I have buyers that I’m taking out every day.”

 

Benchmark price

May 2015 May 2016

Campbell River $278,400 $287,500

Comox Valley $323,800 $360,400

Duncan $297,400 $317,300

Nanaimo $351,700 $389,800

Parksville/QB $365,600 $417,900

Port Alberni $197,300 $197,300

Victoria $593,200 $706,500

— Victoria and Vancouver Island Real Estate Boards

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Collaborative effort removes salmon farms from BC coast

The first farms to be removed were those in closest to the Ahta and Viner Rivers.

North Island Concert Society: Marc Atkinson Trio coming to the Civic Centre

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Port Hardy Civic Centre.

MP Blaney welcomes feedback on medical assistance in dying legislation

Over the next two weeks the Government of Canada is holding consultations… Continue reading

Picture perfect: Get the most from your wedding photography

Stop by the Comox Community Centre on Jan. 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.!

VIDEO: North Island Atom Eagles run over Victoria Racquet Club B2 Kings

“This team has come so far this year, from a tough time in tiering to where we are now”

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

B.C. offers $5 million equipment loan program to help ailing forest contractors

Local politicians in Port McNeill and Campbell River says local economies are struggling

Vancouver Island distillery wins award for best Canadian rye whisky

Shelter Point cleans up at Canadian Whisky Awards

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Most Read